Tahoe Raw Bars

The Buoy & Trap seafood tower. | Kayla Anderson

There’s nothing like enjoying healthy food sourced straight from the sea, but there’s only one catch being so far inland: there aren’t many raw bars in the Tahoe Sierra. Fortunately, there are a few purveyors who work diligently to bring in delicious seafood, stored on ice and served until it sells out. The key is to get there early.

The Oyster Bar
“You can always tell how busy the town is by how packed The Oyster Bar is,” says Tom Russell, Hard Rock Casino’s food & beverage vice president.

It’s true that at certain times of the day or night, there can be up to an hour wait at the Stateline, Nev., location. I was fortunate to get in right at 11:30 a.m. on a midweek afternoon.

Shipments of seafood are flown into Reno, Nev., from both coasts a couple of times a week. While oysters on the half shell are quite popular, this raw bar is also known for its bouillabaisse and rich and creamy pan roasts.

“You can always tell how busy the town is by how packed The Oyster Bar is.”     –Tom Russell

I ordered a half-dozen oysters and the first one I tried, with a little lemon, tasted like it came right from the ocean maybe an hour ago. The second one I tried was with a sweet vinegar mignonette. All of it tasted incredibly fresh and delicious, which is why it is no surprise that it’s been voted the Best Seafood in Tahoe. | hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com

Buoy & Trap
Over in the Pioneer Center in Truckee, Buoy & Trap Seafood Market owner Zack Duksta has been crushing it in the seafood department since he opened in February. 

My partner Jason Forcier and I were fortunate enough to enjoy the seafood tower, a lovely presentation of a pile of crab legs, jumbo shrimp, ahi poke and three kinds of oysters equaling a dozen on ice.

People came in and out as we enjoyed our meal, buying pounds of fresh crab legs or market fresh fish.

Duksta sources oysters from both the East and West coasts —Bodega Bay, Tomales Bay and Rhode Island where Duksta is from. The oysters I tried that day were the Ninigret Nectars from the Behan Family Farm in Rhode Island, the Beausoleils from New Brunswick and the Salt Bay oysters from Nova Scotia. They all tasted uniquely different — the Nectars remarkably different from the West Coast oysters I had in the past. All of them were crazy good, especially paired with the house-made mignonette sauce that included a bit of tarragon.

Read our story on where to buy fresh seafood at TheTahoeWeekly.com/eat

Immersing ourselves in the seafood tower was an experience allowing us an hour to conversate, crack, pop and slurp until all the meat was shelled and discarded. | buoyandtrap.com

Other notables
Stella at Gravity Haus | Dinner includes oysters on the half shell sold at market price sourced from Bodega Bay. | stellatruckee.com

Old Town Tap | Serves oysters in historic downtown Truckee for $3.75 a piece, which are typically Chelsea Gems from Puget Sound, Wash. | oldtowntaptruckee.com